Archive for the ‘ Marriage ’ Category

Thinking about Moving In? Read this First.


Recently, I’ve have several interactions with readers of this blog where they have been talking about moving in together.  While no one will get any kind of judgement from me and this blog.  What you choose to do is your business.  But for anyone considering it- I would whole heartedly beg them to reconsider until there’s been 2 rings and an I Do in between.  This has nothing to do with religion or moral values.  It’s simply that I have seen this happen many many times and almost every time it ends in heartache.  In fact, only once have I ever known a couple that lived together before marriage stay together.  Just once.  And I’ve known A LOT of couples who have done this.

I think it really has to do with the fact that both people are now acting and living in a state of commitment that neither person has really taken the step to commit to.  And what that does is place unspoken expectations on each other, and generally speaking, if everyone were being perfectly honest- this is just a mechanism for protecting your heart from getting hurt- which is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you want to be doing in a relationship. So my advice- Don’t Do It!

To that end, I found this neat infographic from www.BusinessInsider.com  I thought I’d share.  Enjoy

From the Archives: Alone in a Relationship


This is a repost of an older topic that I have encountered a ton recently.  So I thought I’d throw this one back around the look one more time.

Last week I received a message from an old friend asking if we could get together.  She needed some advice from a “man’s perspective.”  We had the opportunity to get together today and caught up on what was going on with each other.  And coming out of that conversation, there are a ton of thoughts swirling around my head, but one stands out above the rest:: I am so thankful for the rich community that Penny and I not only get to live in today, but that we got to go through our season of dating together as well.

As my friend and I talked, she told me how she was absolutely in love with the man that she is with now.  They’ve been together almost a year, and he is so far and above different than any other man she ever been with before, that she couldn’t imagine being with anyone else.  But there was something that has been bothering her over these last couple of months.  Now that all the warm fuzzies of a new relationship have worn off and they find themselves settling into a rhythm, they are finding the rhythm has turned into a rut.  The more we talked, the more what I was hearing her say beyond anything else was that she knows that he loves her, but she doesn’t often feel it.  That, unfortunately, he has stopped pursuing her.  He loves her, he has committed himself to her (but hasn’t put a ring on it yet, so keep it in perspective), and she should know that.  And as a guy, I really get where he is coming from.  But it doesn’t translate well to her heart.  So she pushes in to try to make him understand that she is feeling a gap, hoping that he will respond.  But what she doesn’t see is that he is responding, in a very guy way.  Occasionally, the way he responds does connect to her heart, but usually it only serves to frustrate her more.

As I listened, I thought back to several times in Penny’s and my dating relationship, and even now that we are married, and all the times that we did something that was frustrating or didn’t seem to connect with each other…and at first I couldn’t think of much, but the more I thought, the more I realized that we have had and continue to have the same issues as my friend and her boyfriend.  But in almost every circumstance, I reached back to sitting in the garage of my LifeGroup leader, Michael (who would later be one of my groomsmen), hashing out what was going on, what was confusing and frustrating.  I thought about my ministry team leader at church, Lorelei, who, as a girl, gave me incredibly great insight into the liv

es and hearts of women and decoded a lot for me.  I thought of a great mutual friend that both Penny and I loved and loved us, Rebekah, who had eyes on us as a couple and wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions, as well as encourage us in the things we were doing right.  And Penny had Megan, her own LifeGroup leader, that I knew she was constantly talking to (Megan would also be in our wedding). And I realized something- Penny and I were surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses of people who had nothing to gain from our relationship, they just loved us enough to love us.

So I asked the question to my friend, “Who do you have in your life that is having eyes for you both individually and as a couple?  Who has permission to slap you upside the head when you’re being stupid, and call the best out of you?”  And her answer… “No one,” she whispered as she shook her head.

You see, this guy hadn’t stopped loving my friend.  He just doesn’t have anyone in his life to hit him upside the head and say, “Hey, how about you not hang out with the boys tonight and go hang out with her.”  She doesn’t have anyone in her life to say, “Hey, you know how he said this thing and it frustrated you, do you hear how actually romantic it is.?”  They are doing this relationship alone.  Sure, they have each other, but they don’t have anyone else with them in the middle of it.

Here’s the thing, we were never meant to do any of this life alone.  We aren’t ring-bearers and most of us aren’t named Frodo.  We are designed and meant to do life- to do relationships, in community, with other people around.  It’s what I was talking about in the 10 Things I’ve Learned About Dating :: #7- Date in Community. You don’t have to be alone.  You won’t be better off for it either.  Get people around you.

So how’s it going with you?  I ask you the same question I asked my friend, Do you have anyone in your life that has eyes for you individually and as a couple?  Who has permission to slap you upside the head and cheer you on at the same time?  Leave a comment and let us know.

(PS- Thanks again to Michael, Megan, Lorelei, Rebekah, Todd, Michael R, Ginny, Brad, Jonny, Elijah, Sarah, Harlan, Mike, Teri, and so so many more who were and are part of the community that Penny and I get to do life with.  You guys rock!)


GreatDateSpot.com

Several months ago, a good friend of mine came to me and said, “Mulberry, I think I love her.  But I’m not ready to tell her.”  Then, last week, he looked at me and said, “Alright, Mulberry, I’m ready.”  I looked at him with a raised eyebrow, and in full dude-fashion, punched him in the arm, and said, “It’s about dang time!”

Saying “I Love You” for the first time is really a big deal.  There’s a reason that we are cautious of saying it for its time.  You don’t want to say it too early, otherwise you could freak the other person out.  On the TV Show “The Big Bang Theory,” Leonard and Penny wound up breaking up because one of them said it a bit too early for the other’s taste.

So for anyone out there who’s dating and is feeling like its getting close to time to…

View original post 16 more words

Let Me Hear You


Several months ago, I promised that GreatDateSpot.com would be making a return soon. While we are still toiling away at revamping the site, I have been diligently taking notes on all the new ideas I’ve had over the last 9 months of what would make a good post here. But I thought I’d take a moment and throw this out there to you guys… This is a blog dedicated to encouraging couples and singles in any stage of their relationship to date well- whether your entertaining the idea of starting to date or are already married- we want to do relationships well.

Also- for those of you in the Ohio River Valley area, this is a place to come get ideas for dates.

So what do you want to talk about? What’s your best kept secret for dating? What’s your favorite date spot in the area?

Leave a comment and let me know.

GreatDateSpot on Hiatus


Hey friends, in case you haven’t noticed, GreatDateSpot.com has been a bit quiet lately. In fact, our last post was on Feb. 14th of this year. There’s a good reason for that- on Feb 15th, my wife and I opened our own medical practice and we have been slammed with that. – check us out at http://www.mulberrymed.com
But now that we are getting our feet under us, GreatDateSpot is coming back! Currently we are looking how to revamp the site and relaunch it. There’s not a set date for it yet, but we promise its coming! In the meantime, if you’ve found a Great Date Spot, be sure to let us know!

5 Great Valentines Day GDS Posts


It’s Valentines Day in America.  This is the day that so many things will be happening.  There’ll be a lot of first dates, and a lot of last dates.  Some people will be saying, “I love you” for the first time, and a lot of people saying “I love you” for the thousandth time.  There’ll be a lot of engagements, a lot of celebrating, and above all…A LOT OF DATING.  So in honor of the day that honors love, I thought I’d take a moment and repost 5 of our most popular recent posts on Love and Dating.

1) How to Say “I Love You” for the First Time. It’s pretty self explanatory, but for anyone who is thinking that tonight might be the night for those 3 magic words, this one is for you.

2) 5 Ways to Pursue Your Girl Men, this post is for you.  There is something about the way that your girl’s heart is wired that she wants to be pursued.  And whether or not you realize it, or not, your heart is wired to be in pursuit.  Here are 5 tips for making it happen.

3) Navigating the Land Between…in Dating Have you ever found yourself in a place between being just friends and knowing there was something more, but you weren’t sure what?  Read here for tips on how to navigate that trecherous terrain

4) What are You Voting on in Your Relationship There are things in a relationship that require intentionality.  Here are somethings in your Relationship that you need to be super intentional about and make sure that you are both in agreement on.

5) The Fifth Commandment of Dating. It’s easy to commit a lot of  “sins” when it comes to dating.  But this is one of the big one that you really do NOT want to commit.  Remember Your DateNights and Keep Them Holy.

That’s it for now, Happy Dating

5 Ways to Navigate The Land Between…in Dating


Have you ever been in that spot with a girl and you aren’t quite ready to ask her out yet, but you definitely like her.  You know that spot… you guys really connect.  She’s easy to talk to.  You enjoy being with her.  The fact that she’s pretty hot doesn’t hurt anything.  But you’re not sure if you’re ready to make the big leap and full on ask her out.  You’re not sure if you like her that much?  Then my friend, you are in the Land Between.

Check out this picture.  What’s going on here?  Are they dating?  Maybe not…they aren’t exactly “next to” each other.  But he definitely looks like he could be “in to” her.  Maybe she’s still figuring it out.  But she’s not making an excuse to leave.  So what’s going on here?  Are they in the Land Between?

Last week I wrote a post about what to do when its time to tell her that you love her.  It was something a good friend of mine was going through and it got me to thinking about when that time came for me and Penny.  Well…this week I was working on a project with a different friend and he was telling me about some time he had recently spent one on one with a girl that he’s been into for a while.  It wasn’t a “date” per-say, but it felt very date-ish.  He’s still not quite ready to ask her out, but he’s definitely interested.  And he wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  And I remember that time really well for Penny and I as well.

It really is a sort of Land Between.  What it doesn’t mean is that it’s time for the big “What is this” discussion.  I know it may seem like a good idea to have that Define-The-Relationship discussion at that point, afterall, its a good thing to be on the same page, isn’t it.  Sure it is.  In fact, I’d say that’s exactly what you want- to be on the same page.  To have everything above board and on the table.

We all know the pain of unspoken attraction and the confusion of an ambiguous relationship.  But the problem with those sort of discussions, with these DTR’s at this point, is that it goes beyond getting on the same page and forces both individuals to be in the same place.  And if they aren’t- then awkwardness ensues.

But how does that work.  I mean, look at the progress of relationships, it goes from attraction to dating…right?  Perhaps not.  Let me toss out a step in between, (thus The Land Between) that I think will help out everybody a lot!  It’s a stage that I think naturally exists, but some people want to skip over it all together.  That’s no good.  That stage exists for a reason.  And you want to take full advantage of each stage.  Don’t rush through the stage your on (I’d also say don’t linger either, but that’s another post).

This stage is what I call BEING INTENTIONAL.  So what does Being Intentional look like?  Well, it starts when you find yourself in this stage of- I think I like her, but I’m not sure I’m ready to full on ask her out just yet.  I just want to get to know her better.  It’s a time when you aren’t exclusively dating, but you do hang out a lot, especially in groups of people.  Maybe you’re hanging out with a group of people you wouldn’t otherwise hang out with.  You are really just getting to know each other.  When you go out with a group, you are intentionally in the same car.  You sit near her at the restaurant.  From time to time, you may even go out on a date, but for the most part, its not dating by yourselves.  The whole point is to get to know her to see if she’s someone you want to date.  It’s such a great stage to be on.

And like I said with How to Tell Her I Love You, you need to freakin’ tell her that’s where you are.  Ambiguity in a relationship never serves it well.  But you also want to make it ok for her to not be there at the same time.  That is a rule that will serve you well all throughout your relationship with her.

What does that talk look like with her?  It’s simple- but not easy-

1) Pick neutral ground to tell her. You don’t want her feeling trapped in your territory or feeling like her territory has been invaded.  It needs to be a safe place for her.  Keep it a public place.  You definitely want a place where the two of you can talk by yourselves, but not a place where your cloistered in a small room or car.  For me, it was in the auditorium at church after most people had cleared out but some people were still milling around.

2) Tell her what you like about her. This is a good way to start the conversation.  Is she easy to talk to?  Does she share similar interests?  I remember when my friends asked me what was the biggest attraction factor I had for Penny, my answer was that she was almost as big of a smart a** as I was.  She kept up with me and all my antics.  It was so much fun.  What is it for you?  Tell her specifically.

3) Let her know that you’re interested. Don’t skip this step.  This is the clarifying statement and the whole reason for having this talk in the first place.  Be really clear.  You like hanging out.  You see that there is some attraction and it could possibly one day be something more.  That’s what you’re interested in finding out. You can end this with, “I’d like to be intentional about getting to know you better.”

4) Tell her how you want to Be Intentional.  Tell her what “Being Intentional” looks like to you.  This is where you’ll dispel all doubt about your intentions.  Tell her you want to be intentional about hanging out around her.  Going to the groups she goes to.  Sitting near her.  Being intentional about talking with her.  In other words- taking the actual steps to get to know her better.  Not stalking her, just getting to know her.

5) Get her permission. Now this may sound cheesy, but there may be a boyfriend she hasn’t told you about.  The words are simple- “Is that ok with you?”  She’ll let you know one way or the other.  No harm no foul here, you just didn’t know and never-the-less, you guys still clicked, that’s why you needed to have this conversation.  Maybe she just got out of a relationship.  Or maybe that’s exactly where she is.  This is the part where its really ok for her to NOT be there yet.

So what do you do if she’s not there yet- reassure her that its really ok.  You just wanted to let her know where you were.  You can tell her that you are indeed still interested, and when she is ready, then she can let you know.

The great thing about this is that its a win-win.  Cause if she says that its all good, then great.  This actually begins your pursuit of her.  If not, then you have clarified some things.  If she is flirting with you and shouldn’t be, then this will let her know.  You also haven’t gone to any weird places yet, so you really still can be friends.  And if she does eventually get there, then she’ll know its safe to come back and let you know.

The Land Between- Being Intentional- call it whatever you may, but its a great stage to be in.

Weekly Featured Date:: Bellini’s


A couple of weeks ago, it was my dad’s birthday.  For the first time that I can remember, we surprised Dad by gathering the family here in town and surprising him with dinner at a local steakhouse.  Penny and I also got to celebrate my cousin, Jeremy who recently got engaged!  My cousin Jeremy is a chef, but I’d never actually eaten his food before.  He mentioned that we should come to his restaurant, Bellini’s, located in downtown Lexington.  A couple of days later, my planned DateNight with Penny sort of blew up in my face, and I had to scramble to come up with some new plans (hmmm, perhaps that’ll be a post- what to do when your plans blow up). So we shifted some things, I called my cousin, and he said to come on in.  And we did…

Usually this column is reserved for activities for couples to do on DateNights, but Penny and I had such a great experience at Bellini’s, that it really earned its own spot as a Weekly Featured Date.  Warning- this a pricey date, but the whole experience is one you won’t forget anytime soon.

To start off, Bellini’s is truly a fine dining restaurant.  Which as I’ve come to learn, is a big date in and of itself.  Not just because the price will probably use all of your dating budget for the night, if not a couple of nights; but also because this is a place that you’ll want to dress up for a bit.  I don’t mean a suit and tie, though that wouldn’t be inappropriate, but dressy casual.

Enjoy your drive downtown in Lexington, but as you pull up, take advantage of the Valet parking directly across the street from Bellini’s.  Enter through the martini bar on the left, where you can stop to have a drink first.  The low lighting and red glow of the room certainly sets the high class, romantic atmosphere of the restaurant.  As you enter the dining room, be ready to check your coat with the hostess.

Here’s where the real fun begins…the food.  Bellini’s is an italian restaurant, so I was worried that for a guy who can’t eat pasta right now, there might not be much for me to enjoy there.  Boy was I wrong!  The menu was one of those kinds that had no pictures and lots of foreign words…which always makes me nervous, but I was the hands of my cousin so I relaxed and just went with it.  Penny and I both picked items from the non-pasta side of the menu.  She got the duck, and I got the braised short ribs.  In addition to that, we got a plate of muscles as our appetizer and Chef Jeremy sent out a couple of amuse bouches.

The food was absolutely amazing!  When it came, the presentation was beautiful, I hated to defile it with a fork and knife.  Then the waitress actually explained exactly what we were eating as she set it down.  You know, “Here is the duck breast, simmered with an apple glaze over a carrot puree and blah blah blah.”  Basically all I heard was, “Here is some of the most amazing yummy goodness you’ll ever eat in your life.”  I have to say, I had no clue that my cousin was a great chef!  Upon taking the first bite of her food, Penny melted and mumbled, “Oh my god, this good!”

Anyway, Bellini’s definitely qualifies as a GreatDateSpot.  Go ahead and plan on at least an hour to an hour and half at the restaurant.  When dinner is over, you can add to it just about anything- a walk downtown, some ice cream somewhere, even a movie at home…because you’re date will have been a great one!

 

Weekly Featured Date :: The Double Date


Typically with the Weekly Featured Date segment, I try to highlight a place to go, an activity to do, or sometimes even a restaurant.  But this time I’m pulling out something different.  I’m not even sure what category this would fit into, but considering that I don’t much like categories, I’m really ok with it.

This week’s Weekly Featured Date is simple- do something, anything, go somewhere- but this time- invite another couple along and make it a Double Date.

The whole point of a DateNight in the first place is to give a couple time out from everything else in life to spend together, getting to know each other, and just have fun together.  I know it may seem that when you introduce another couple into the equation, then you lose the intimate aspect and you have to spend all the time together with another couple.  However- think about it- on a double date you get to be a couple, the other couple gets to be a couple, and you get to be a couple together.  I’m not talking about anything dirty here- its just called being a couple in community.

Also, this is great way to take a time out from everything else in life- think of the couples you know- couples at church, couples at work, couples in the neighborhood.  Going out for a Double Date with any of these couples puts you in a different setting and allows you to get to know not only the other couple better, but you get to know your dating partner in a setting with other people.

The Double Date- the hardest part is just finding a couple who’s schedule you can get to mesh with yours.

6 Steps to Kick Off Dating in the New Year



It seems that it’s been a while since any activity has happened here on GreatDateSpot.com.  These past holidays were nuts around the Mulberry House, relatives and travel and parties and cleaning and doing it all over again…unfortunately, it seems that Penny and I haven’t really had much time for dating.  And what do I think of that?  It was no excuse.  We still haven’t mastered the make-up date just yet, but that’s ok…we’re still learning.

You see, its bound to happen…you have a plan, and set DateNight, and things come up every so often that knock you off schedule.  But that’s no excuse not to date.  Not to connect.  And what Penny and I have gotten to practice over these last 3 or 4 weeks is how to connect and keep our own relationship strong in the midst of a lot of busy-ness and family time.  Sometimes we did well, sometimes we didn’t.   It’s part of our growth.  And part of my own growth as the one entrusted to lead this marriage.  It was tricky trying to discern the times when it ok that we fore-go’ed? (fore-went?) our time together for time with the family, and when we really needed to steal away and just have time together.  It’s not really something I have ever had to do before.  But I was fully aware of it the entire time.

All that aside- here we are- back home, back on a regular schedule, and its time to get back to Dating!  We are definitely ready for another season of Dating and learning how to grow in and through relationships.  Today I want to share a thought on Dating in the New Year.

Here’s my big thought- Be Freakin’ Intentional this year.  Be intentional about having regularly scheduled DateNights.  What that doesn’t mean is being laxidasical and waiting until the day of the date to think about what you’re going to do.  When you wait till the last minute, its a recipe for the M word: MONOTONY.  Monotony is the biggest killer of a dating life.  Mostly because it takes all the fun out of it.  But how do you avoid it?  How do you avoid the Rut?  The best way I have found to plan out what you’re going to do is simple.  It’s an old school method. Create a Calendar.

Create a schedule for DateNights.  This was our DateNight schedule from last fall.  Its simple Excel-type spreadsheet.  And below are 6 steps to creating an excellent season of Dating here at the start of 2011.

1) Get a night of the week that will generally be a scheduled night for the two of you.  For Penny and I, it’s Friday nights.  For a lot of my friends, it’s Monday nights.  Maybe its a rotating night.  However it works for you, get a night when you will intend to go out.  Keep in mind, it won’t work every week- things will come up.  But at least it gives you something to shoot for.

2) Go ahead and block out the times when you know things will interfere.  What are the big weeks you know are coming up that will disrupt your dating schedule.  For me, I color code those times.  Orange represents times when I know that Friday Night will not work.  Yellow represents weeks where Friday may work, but other things could creep in and we may have to be flexible (like the Friday after Thanksgiving).  Doing this will allow you to have a heads up and create a back up plan- a make up date night.

3) Plan an activity for each DateNight. This is where the real work and fun comes into planning these things.  You’ll see the times when the same ole thing keeps coming up- and it will allow you to move them around.  Penny and I will often go to Cincinnati or Louisville for our Dates, so for me, this lets me see when we are going out of town several weeks in a row- then lets me adjust it so we aren’t leaving all the time.  This will also allow for you to check the local theaters- what plays or sporting events or concerts are coming that you need to go ahead an get tickets for (and gives you time to get good seats 🙂 )  The key here is variety.  Revisit the old favorites, and get some new things going on as well.  One final tip: Try not to schedule too many movies over the season.  If there are some big movies coming out that you both want to see, then by all means, but otherwise- keep it changed up.

4) Schedule Food for each DateNight. Sharing a meal together is a time-honored tradition, but more than that, it gives you great time to talk.  Scheduling the food will allow you to keep a variety of restaurants on tap.  If you’re like me, you’ll see a restaurant as you’re driving around town…and think, “We should try going there sometime.” But then you never go back… sound familiar?  The Calendar will help make that happen.  And what I think you’ll find is that pairing your restaurant selection with your activity is a bit like pairing a fine wine with just the right cheese.

5) Think through the added bonus. In other words, what makes this DateNight special?  What is something that you’ll both get out of this night that doesn’t happen on too many other nights.  It could be many things: a long drive with lots of talk time.  Homemade meal.  A special surprise or gift.  Time with another couple or loved one.

6) Take Good Notes. This was a lesson I learned after making these calendars our a few times.  Let’s face it– sometimes a well planned DateNight just turns out to be a stinker.  Sometimes its really great.  Sometimes you’ll hear her say something that you want to remember.  Sometimes you’ll want to remember if you two liked a particular restaurant or if there was a lesson learned from a certain experience.  This helps you to grow and get better at creating memorable DateNights.

So go for it!  Kick off 2011 the right way- with a strong season of Dating.  Get it planned out.  I suggest start small- if you’ve never done this before, try from January through March.  As for Penny and I, my calendar this time is planned through the end of May.  We’ll move into Summer after that.

When you do it, come back and leave a message, let us know how your schedule is working out.